Jafar Azimzadeh Released on Furlough (updates as of July 1, 2016)
Jafar Azimzadeh was released from Sina Hospital at 8 pm, Thursday, June 30, 2016, after 63 days of hunger strike. There were great fears that the authorities had a plan to transfer Azimzadeh back to the Evin prison after his hospital stay; however, they were forced granting an indefinite Furlough to Jafar Azimzadeh after his health significantly deteriorated and following increasing protests in Iran and internationally. Jafar Azimzadeh’s furlough is expected to last until he goes for a retrial and receives a new verdict.
Jafar’s family and friends escorted him from Sina Hospital to Tehran’s Atieh Hospital for treatment. He was extremely weak and needed help getting into a wheelchair. Jafar was released from Atieh Hospital on Friday morning, July 1, 2016 after receiving primary treatments, appropriate medications and a three-week plan of recovery from his lengthy hunger strike. He will have to go back to hospital for the treatments related to other health problems caused as a result of his hunger strike including intestinal bleeding and kidney, bladder and urinary problems.
Congratulations to Jafar Azimzadeh for his courage and resistance, and to Free Union of Iranian Workers, labour and progressive movements in Iran and internationally and to all concerned individuals and organizations around the world for their heartfelt support, urgent actions and messages of solidarity.
There are still many other labour activists and teachers in Iran facing imprisonment and persecution. We still need justice for lashed mine workers and thousands of other workers who are routinely oppressed by the anti-worker government, employers and their security and intelligence forces in Iran.
Background information: Jafar Azimzadeh has been serving a 6 year prison sentence in Evin Prison since November 8, 2015 merely for his labour activities. He was charged with “assembling and colluding with intent to act against national security”; which is one of the key charges that the Islamic Republic of Iran has routinely been using against labour activists.
Jafar Azimzadeh, chair of the board of directors of Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran), went on indefinite hunger strike on April 29, 2016. They had declared their indefinite hunger strike after releasing a joint statement, while in custody, protesting their own and other social and labour activists’ jail sentences, and in support of the demands and right of teachers and other workers. They protested against criminalization of trade union and civic activities, assemblies and strikes; poverty wages, banning of independent May 1st celebrations and Teachers’ Day as well as denouncing ILO’s lack of effective and transparent actions against the violation of the most basic rights of workers and teachers in Iran. They asserted that “The charge of ‘gathering and colluding with intent to act against national security’ and other security-related charges must be removed from the existing cases against protesting workers and teachers. Such fabricated allegations against us and other imprisoned labour activists and jailed teachers must also be annulled”.
Days following the hunger strike by Esmail Abdi and jafar Azimzadeh on April 29th, Esmail Abdi was transferred to hospital and released on three hundred million toman bail on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Esmail Abdi is expected to receive a new verdict from an appeals court. Just a day before Jafar’s release, Esmail Abdi, along with Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, Rasoul Bodaghi and about thousand other labour activists and teachers in Iran, had called for a two-day hunger strike in solidarity with Jafar Azimzadeh from June 30th to July 2, 2016.
Many international organizations had also called for the release of Jafar Azimzadeh and for an end to repression of workers and labour activists in Iran. Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on June 29th “calling on the Iranian authorities to release Jafar Azimzadeh immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his peaceful trade union activities”. From Canadian Union of Public Employees to Vancouver and District Labour Council to Swiss Trade Union Confederation to Industriall global federation and CFDT, CGT, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA in France to Bus Workers’ Syndicate in Tehran … they all strongly supported Jafar Azimzadeh’s call for justice while raising serious concerns for his health and wellbeing.
Moreover, renowned scholars and labour and political activists including Noam Chomsky, Greg Albo, Kevin B. Anderson, Cyrus Bina, John Clarke, Steve Early, Bill Fletcher Jr., Safia Gahayr, Sam Gindin, Brad Hornick, Boris Kagarlitsky, Michael A. Lebowitz, David McNally, Derrick O’Keefe, Piergiorgio (Pier) Moro, Mike Palecek, Leo Panitch, Misagh Parsa, Herman Rosenfeld, Ingo Schmidt, Peter Tatchell, Michael Yates, George Binette, Alex Callinicos, Joseph Daher,Mohan Dutta, Alex Gordon, Amir Hassanpour, Peter Hudis, Pranav Jani, Laleh Khalili, Paul Le Blanc, Shahrzad Mojab, John Rees, Steven Salaita,Kim Scipes, Ahmad Seyf, David, Michael Smith, Rona Smith … raised deep concerns about the health and wellbeing of Jafar Azimzadeh and other jailed workers in Iran and called for their immediate and unconditional freedom.
IASWI urges all workers’ and teachers’ organizations, progressive groups, and concerned individuals and organizations and Human Rights institutions to continue to forcefully and strongly condemn the suppression and incarceration of labour activists and teachers by the Islamic Republic of Iran and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned labour activists and political prisoners in Iran.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)